Former FIFA President Sepp Blatter has defended the vote for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, saying, "You cannot buy a World Cup." Further, he protested his own innocence, claiming, "I was even treating well all my ex-girlfriends," and suggested they are among his defenders.
In an interview with Martyn Ziegler of the Times (h/t BBC Sport), Blatter claimed former President of France Nicolas Sarkozy requested that former UEFA President Michel Platini vote for a country other than the USA—which Platini denied in a Guardian interview—to host the showpiece:
You cannot buy a World Cup; it will go at the end where the higher political influences are.
For 2022, Platini at least had the courtesy to phone me and say, 'now we have had a meeting with the head of state and if the head of state is asking me to support France for different reasons then I will.' He said 'my vote will not be for the Americans.'
I knew then there would be a problem. We tried but it was too late.
Blatter, 79, is serving an eight-year suspension from football activity following an investigation by FIFA's ethics committee into a payment he made to Platini.
Per BBC's report, Blatter is appealing the corruption allegations against him, but the ethics committee are "hoping to increase his punishment to a lifetime ban."
Blatter denied any wrongdoing, saying, "I am sure there is justice in this world and that I have committed nothing which goes to criminal law."
He added: "I have killed nobody, I have not robbed a bank, I have not taken any money from anywhere and I was even treating well all my ex-girlfriends. It's true. They defend me. One I was married to only for a few months and she is really defending me."
FIFA will be holding elections to replace the Swiss administrator with a new president on February 26. According to the Economist, Blatter's successor will inherit a difficult situation requiring "radical reform," with British diplomat Jon Benjamin sharing one such issue that will need addressing:
Blatter began working at FIFA in 1975 and from 1998 until 2015 was president of the organisation, winning his fifth consecutive election in May last year.